After watching his remarkable primary victory dissolve into a pathetic also-ran campaign for the general election, Ned Lamont has decided to return to the one-note campaign that energized anti-war activists earlier. The endorsed Democratic candidate for Connecticut’s Senate seat has decided to spend the last week of the campaign focused on the Iraq War:
Returning to the issue that won him the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in August, Ned Lamont has begun intensifying his attacks on Senator Joseph I. Lieberman over the Iraq war with television and Internet advertisements as well as campaign appearances, and aides said on Monday that the emphasis would continue through Election Day.
“We’re going back to our roots, so to speak,” said Tom D’Amore, a senior adviser to Mr. Lamont. “They don’t want to talk about that issue, and we don’t want it to go away. Not just because they don’t want to talk about it, but because it is the issue of our time and for future generations.”
The shift back to Iraq follows two months in which Mr. Lamont, seeking to rebut criticism that he is a one-issue candidate lacking the depth to replace Mr. Lieberman, worked to cultivate an image as a successful businessman with broad interest in domestic policy matters like education and health care. But that effort does not appear to have helped him in the polls, where Mr. Lieberman has remained solidly ahead.
Dan Gerstein, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said of the shift: “They tried to broaden to other issues, but without any kind of agenda, no new ideas. And it failed.”
The failure has become rather brutally apparent. Lamont stands for nothing exceptional apart from his opposition to the Iraq War. While that gave Lamont an initial edge over incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman, his demonstrable lack of substance on any other issue made it easy for Connecticut voters to tire of the millionaire’s flyer. His attempts to expand his message only showed that he had none.
Lieberman, who lost the nomination by just a few points, now has an eight-point lead over Lamont. It had been higher, but the Republican, Alan Schlesinger, improved from microscopic support to 9%. Ironically, Lamont’s supporters have been talking up the Republican, convinced that a surge for Schlesinger will steal support from Lieberman — as if Lieberman didn’t already have a long track record in Connecticut.
This was the only option left open to Lamont. Lieberman has a solid record in support of the Democratic agenda in the Senate, giving Lamont little to discuss except Iraq. His attempts to broaden his repertoire made him sound like nothing more than a Lieberman wannabe. The only surprise here is that it took Lamont this long to return to the only theme he has. Democrats have tried to tone down the anti-war rhetoric to avoid losing yet another election cycle they should win, and perhaps this impulse bled into Lamont’s campaign as well. Whatever the reason, Lamont is clearly losing this election, so he has little to risk by returning to his limited message now.